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No Man’s Land: Young People Uncover Women’s Viewpoints on the First World War, Award Ceremony and Book Launch

Posted  4 October 2017 in News  
By Pamela Linden
Mairi Chisholm Elsie leaning through a hole in a damaged building in Pervyse, 1915 (detail). © The National Library of Scotland

Award Ceremony and Book Launch, Friday 6 October 5pm to 6pm Official launch by Professor Alison Fell, University of Leeds.

New Focus, a dynamic group of young people aged 16 to 25 based at Impressions Gallery in Bradford, celebrate the culmination of a £34,400 year-long National Lottery funded project with the launch of their publication No Man’s Land:Young People Uncover Women’s Viewpoints on the First World War.

The book is the result of working in partnership with The Peace Museum, Bradford; the University of Leeds; and IWM (Imperial War Museums). New Focus were given special access to all partners’ archives and took part in workshops run by leading experts in photography, history and the First World War. In response, New Focus created their own publication for other young people sharing some of the women’s stories they discovered. In this book, New Focus bring to life the First World War through the eyes of women.

Highlights include women who worked as nurses, ambulance drivers, and official photographers, as well as peace campaigners. Many of the photographs featured have never been published, including photographs taken by Mary ‘Fluffy’ Porter who joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, and the photo- album by Sister ‘Josie’ Kane, who travelled to Malta to work for the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service.

“I was amazed by the tenacity of strong-willed women during the First World War, who were way ahead of their time” Benjamin Heaton, New Focus

“In the book, we wanted to show the real everyday lives of women during the First World War, and that they had enjoyable but also tough and heart-breaking experiences.” Ione Collins, New Focus

The book is designed for young people by young people and will be distributed to secondary schools and libraries throughout the Bradford district thanks to the support of National Lottery Players. New Focus are also running workshops in schools to engage pupils with the themes in the book, as well as developing creative activities at Impressions Gallery to share their experiences with other young people.

Jennifer Sobol, Learning and Engagement Co-ordinator at Impressions Gallery said – “It has been unbelievable to see how New Focus have engaged with the material they have found in each archive. As a team, they have accomplished more than I would ever have expected, and their passion for the subject matter shines through in the amazing publication they have created. I am looking forward to working with them to share this fantastic resource with other young people in Bradford.”

Explaining the importance of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) support, the head of the HLF in Yorkshire and the Humber, David Renwick, said: “The impact of the First World War was far reaching, touching and shaping every corner of the UK and beyond. The Heritage Lottery Fund has already invested more than £86 million to more than 1,700 projects – large and small – that are marking this global Centenary. It’s great to see National Lottery funding has enabled young people at Impressions Gallery to explore the continuing legacy of this conflict, in particular the contribution of women.”

Prof. Alison Fell, who is a leading expert on women in the First World War, will officially launch the book at the award ceremony on Friday 6 October from 5pm to 6pm at Impressions Gallery. New Focus will be talking about the project and giving out free publications to guests.

The publication is inspired by the major exhibition No Man’s Land: Women’s Photography and the First World War which is on show at Impressions Gallery from 7th October to 30th December 2017. The exhibition will officially open after the publication launch event, on Friday 6 October 6pm to 8pm.

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